Letters from Readers
N.B.—Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and MOTOR SPORT does not necessarily associate itself with them.—Ed.
The RAC and Motor Racing
Your mention a couple of issues ago of the RAC's new scheme for a "totting-up" procedure on competition licences led me to consider, as an active participant in Historic Sports Car Club races, exactly what the RAC does for my racing. My own "totting-up" follows.
(1) Race organisation:
Nothing. All my races are organised by specialist clubs.
(2) Notification of suitable races:
Nothing. This function is handled by the secretaries of the various clubs who do organise races for my type of car.
(3) Circuit Safety Standards:
Nothing. Every bit of Armco, catchnetting or sleeper-reinforced embankment is a threat to my car in any case of my lack of skill creating an incident.
(4) Granting of racing licences:
Although I admit that some system of observation and grading is necessary. and a centrally recognised body must administer such a scheme, the pricing structure for different types and grades is ridiculous. As one example—why on earth should a national class racing licence holder require a speed licence for sprints as well? I have special scorn for the extra fees required by the RAC before one can race abroad.
(5) Establishment of standards:
Nothing. I race to rules established by the HSCC, and it is the HSCC, not the RAC, which is trying to negotiate a standard European set of rules.
I could go on; I do think my point is clear: the RAC takes money from me for my licence, from my race entries, and from my car clubs, for which I do not believe I get much value. Perhaps some RAC spokesman could reply by pointing out a specific accomplishment in the field of automobile racing that (1) directly benefits me, and (2) could only have been done by the RAC.
On another note, can I add my belated congratulations to those sent previously by others on the occasion of your anniversary? Yours is a splendid magazine, and D.S.J. one of the best journalists and writers about —in or out of his special field.
London SW1 Dr. S. A. STANDEN
Defending the Dino
Sir, I eagerly awaited delivery of the November issue of MOTOR SPORT, anticipating some worthwhile comment in response to Mr. T. J. Handley's letter on the question of Dino running costs (refer October edition). However, having now read the published reply by Mr. N. J. Edwards of Shaftesbury I am moved to express my disappointment firstly, due to the fact that you find it convenient to reprint the comments of a Dino owner of some "couple of days" standing on your pages and, secondly, that you allow this verbage to occupy more than double the scripted column space allowed for the new Lotus Eclat. I cannot believe that this was the only reply you received.
In the hope that your questioner, Mr. Handley, will not rush out and "buy a Porsche" (as Mr. Edwards advises) before considering a Dino further, I beg to inform that some twelve months ago I too was seeking the same answers regarding Dino running costs, and, I believe, nine months' experience has supplied most of those answers to my pleasant surprise and, with your indulgence. I would advise Mr. Handley and other prospective purchasers of my feelings.
Firstly: no, they are not troublesome, under any stretch of the imagination and secondly: yes, they can be expensive. The costs though can be reduced by taking the car off the road for regular short periods to enable thorough maintenance and inspections to take place. I have found that by forward planning of services and routine replacements the costs can be reduced considerably by "shopping around" for components in the meantime and not assuming that authorised dealers are the only suppliers of vital spare parts. As an example. I have recently managed to fit new hoses to my car at 20% of the cost of the factory replacements; furthermore, wheel bearings, clutch, petrol pump, seats, electrical components. cables, certain suspension and chassis parts are other examples of components that, so I am informed, may be obtained from regular sources at a fraction of the cost of genuine factory spares. This, added to the fact that the engine and gearbox unit is readily accessible from the top, bottom and three sides and that a most informative handbook is available leads to significant economies, and, to my mind, makes the whole proposition of owning a Dino more than attractive.
Hence my utter satisfaction with the car and utter indignation over the offending November letter.
Crewe J. V. RENAUDON .
PS: Please may readers be afforded the benefit of a full Esprit and Eclat road test as soon as circumstances allow. [Yes, as soon as Lotus make them available.—Ed.]
Peerless and Warwick
In 1974 you were kind enough to print a letter of mine regarding the formation of the Peerless and Warwick Owners' Register. I am pleased to say that the response was most encouraging and 55 vehicles have been located (five in the USA) to date and I enclose a copy of the newsheet for your information.
Reading Mr. Joseland's letter in the October issue he might just as well have been talking about a Peerless or a Warwick. I am in full agreement with your editorial and hope that our sort of cars do not become just investments. Your comments regarding spares bring to mind just such an affliction with "our" cars. In 1974 a well-known firm supplying windscreens quoted £18.50 for a tinted laminated screen for this vehicle; I am given to understand by some members who have thought to replace their screens (due to either cracking or whiting at the edges) that the price is now £45 plus VAT for a plain screen.
I look forward to reading your most interesting and informative magazine and wish you well for the next 50 years and hope that I am still driving and enjoying it as much as I do now.
Friesthrope, Lincoln D. F. THOMSON
Use of Headlamps at Night
I have received many calls from worried owners of historic vehicles about the proposed regulations which seek to make the use of headlights at night compulsory. I should make it clear therefore that the new regulations will not apply to vintage and veteran vehicles but only to those which are required to have double dipping headlights under the existing rules.
London, EC JAMES CROCKER
Chairman, Historic Vehicle Clubs Joint Committee
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It is not easy to understand why headlights should be made compulsory for driving in well lit streets, when lighting experts state that they will detract from the effectiveness of lighting on the silhouette principle and increase disability glare (Electrical Times, October 3rd, 1975). Could it be that the intention is to save on public lighting by replacing it with privately provided headlights? Or is the difficulty in identifying following vehicles the official attraction—or what?
We are used to having the practical experience of competent drivers ignored in the face of "expert" advice. In this case the experts are being disregarded as well, and there has to be an interesting explanation.
Glasgow A. L, DICK
[Although the headlight Bill has been thrown out of the House of Commons, we include these two of many letters received on the subject to make the point that Dr. Gilbert's intention to reintroduce this foolish Bill next year has not passed unnoticed.—Ed.]
Having just joined the ranks of car salesmen at a local dealership, I thought the following might be of interest.
I refer to the November issue, "Used Morgan Inflation", Mr. B. G. W. Jamieson.
Our dealership sells bread and butter saloons, so when a Morgan (1973, 16,000 miles, 4/4) was traded in my eyes lit up, but my chance of Morgan motoring was snatched away in the following way.
Glass's Guide gave £1,350 as retail: we allowed £1,250, well over trade, in part exchange for a Citroen GS. Not being used to selling the Morgan type of motor car, we put it on the forecourt with a for sale sticker, and no price sticker. Just as the showroom was closing a car pulled up sharply in the road outside and a man ran in, yes, ran.
"Is that car sold?"
"Don't sell it, back tomorrow." He duly returned, gave us £1,850 for the car, then told us he had a customer, who had been waiting 2 years for such a car. The price he charged his customer £2,250, and it was happily paid.
So there we are, £1,000 in 36 hours. reading the advertisements for Morgans properly, it's an obvious price to sell at. But what about the Glass's Guide retail figure of £1,350! Surely they must read your adverts if only in the line of duty (perish the thought).
In fairness to my employers and the customer please omit the address from any published text.
My thanks, in common with many others, for an excellent magazine, written by motorists like me!
[Name and address supplied.---Ed.]
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Mr. Jamieson's letter regarding the prices being asked for used Morgans will no doubt evoke a wide response.
It is perhaps painful to recall that in the late fifties interest in Morgans reached an all-time low--at least one new Plus Four stood in a London showroom for two years before being sold. Interest has since revived and expanded world-wide, helped by increased publicity--1975 has seen more television and Press coverage than ever before. This is good news for the Morgan Company but rather hard luck on the British enthusiast when 85% of production is exported.
The obvious problem is that with both new and used Morgans, there are simply not enough available to satisfy demand. This being the case, many prospective buyers are prepared to pay more for a used example than it cost when new. Unfortunately many of these people are pseudo-enthusiasts who look on a Morgan either as a profitable investment or as a status symbol to be discarded as soon as the novelty wears off. It is these people who help to keep the dealers in business and inflate prices out of the reach of some less wealthy, but more genuine, enthusiasts.
There are two or three dealers (no names, no pack drill) who should hang their heads in shame at their cynical profiteering. Some of them seem to care nothing for the history and spirit of the Morgan--it is to them just a means of making money, a commodity to be bought as cheaply as possible and sold to the highest bidder, which is no doubt the reason why so many cars are being advertised for sale without prices.
The only answer, albeit rather an unsatisfactory one, is for the would-be Morgan owner to seek a suitable car from a private source, meagre though the opportunities may be. Better still, join the Morgan Sports Car Club and buy from another member--at least one can be sure of a fair deal and value for money. Perhaps it might be of some consolation to look at the matter from this angle: a good five-year-old 4/4 could probably be had for £1,700 in a private deal--about the same as a new 1,275 Mini. I know which is the better! Many thanks for a superb magazine.
Cleethorpes HOWARD L. GOY
Prototype at large
Please find enclosed two photos I took yesterday of a possible new model.
There are no indications of what it may have been, but it was heading for the Stoke-on-Trent area through Derbyshire when I went after it. The driver, upon realising I was trying to take photos, accel erated away (I was ina 2CV6!). I was wondering if you would know what it was?
Kirkby-in-Ashfield C. MAYGER
[Typical Leyland "bread-van" camouflage, whatever is beneath. We think we know what it is and believe we'll find out for certain in the new year.--Ed.]
New F1 Regulations
Over the last few months I have been reading various articles in various magazine, on the rulings for the 1976 Formula One season. Firstly, they are talking about reducing tyre width and to remove front wings to slow down cornering, and so avoid crashes involving spectators. In my opinion this is going to slow down the sport so much that the spectators will slowly diminish due to lack of excitement. The whole point in Formula One racing is to drive fast and to try various aerodynamic shapes, and to see their effect at high speeds. Production cars revolve around these facts and figures achieved by Formula One racing (e.g., the wedge shape of the Wolseley 18-22 Series is remarkably similar to Formula racing cars).
The organisers should try thinking about "why" the spectators go to these races in the first place. If it was slow the organisers would have no spectators to protect. Granted, lives have been lost, when they could have been saved, but the organisers are just as capable of improving their safety methods as are the teams. By this I don't mean planting a tight chicane in the middle of the track, because if anything these cause more deaths than anything else. Instead, on a great deal of the circuit boundaries, they could have sand or earth walls which will, from the drivers' and spectators' point of view, absorb the shock ol high-speed impact. And then, if the organisers are really feeling exuberant, the earth banks can be heightened to carry spectators on top. This will of course cost money, but in my view the money would be well spent.
Also another point is that the current top drivers are used to the superb handling and accelerating and braking stability of the formula cars. The great majority of these drivers have been racing for a good many years and I think that the lessening of the tyre widths and removal of front wings could cause more accidents. By this I mean the drivers will he used to taking corners at high speeds and when, in a new regulation car, they take the corner at too high a speed (they may have a mental blackout, considering they had been taking corners at higher speeds for the last ten years or so) a serious accident could result.
Anyway, I hope this makes people think a bit and, hopefully, take measures to keep Formula One racing at the high standard it is at, at the moment.
Lancaster GLENN MOUNSEY
The AA Again
I see from this morning's mail that the AA are offering yet another service—Group Life Insurance. When I joined the AA some ten years ago I understood I was joining a motoring organisation, but now, I see the "publishing company" is trying its hand at insurance broking—together with their facilities for personal loans, etc.; perhaps we will soon have the complete AA investment service or even Building Society?
Add to this their intolerably bad (from personal experience on four occasions) breakdown service, and their apathetic view on anti-motorist legislation, I would prompt all members to remind the AA who pays for their existence—or join the RAC!
Thank you for an excellent publication which is eagerly awaited each month. 1 note Alan C. Wells has corrected C.R. on the origins of "Dan Dare" but please inform him that "Desperate Dan" is still chiselling the whiskers off his chin in the Dandy!
Sutton Coldfield ANTHONY D. SCHOFIELD
PS: If AA members wish to plan their life insurance I suggest they contact a good insurance company or reputable insurance broker.
More Support for the MG-B V8
I read with interest the letter from Mr. Dear in the November issue and would like to say that I share entirely his enthusiasm for the MG-B GT V8, although I have only had mine for 10,000 miles.
I too was surprised to find so few V8s around, although I am hopeful that perhaps more people are at last realising what fine cars they really are, as the prices asked for secondhand examples are now rising. Certainly a low mileage V8 at about £2,500 must be a temptation to anyone thinking of paying nearly £2,700 for a new B GT, especially as the V8 offers nearly twice the power in terms of torque for about the same fuel consumption as the 1800 B GT.
Like Mr. Dear, I have found spare parts need to be ordered a little in advance, but this is no hardship as one should know roughly when such things as points, hoses, fan belt, etc., will he required. At least spare parts can be bought in one's own town, and at reasonable prices, which would not be the case had I purchased a foreign sports car.
It is regrettable that the motoring press has, in the main, been unkind to the MG V8. Isn't it funny that rubber mats and a painted dash are out-of-date features on an MG; but an indication of a mature clientele on a Lamborghini. In such depressing times, the 2000 chrome bumper 8-cylinder MGs of 1973/74 were a splendid way of celebrating the correct MG anniversary year, and I hope the present model will now find the success it deserves, as it must surely be the best MG ever.
Basingstoke RICK HOUSLEY
Over the last five years I have run a VX 4/90, followed by a Manta SR.
Each car covered something over 50,000 miles in approximately 2½ years of ownership, and both led fairly arduous lives. The condition of the bodywork of the vehicles when traded in was extremely good (the Vauxhall especially so) with no sign whatsoever of any rust.
The Opel has just been replaced by a Fiat 124 Sport which has so far covered something over 50 miles in approximately 2½ days. The dealer has today suggested that the side trim strips be resprayed, and that both bumpers should be replaced owing to rust!
Guinness Book of Records, anyone?
Croydon DAVID L. ROBERTS
Sir, I was interested to read in the November issue the letter from Mr. Irish regarding multiple insurance since I have the same problem on a much more modest scale. As I understand the Road Traffic Acts, the law does not require the car to be insured but the driver. For this reason the majority of certificates of insurance state that any motor vehicle is covered being the property of the Policy Holder or in the custody or control of the Policy Holder, or words to this effect. This degree of cover is mandatory but extends to Third Party Risks only as required by the Acts. What we do when we specify the particular vehicle on the proposed form is to extend the minimum cover on the one vehicle to cover fire, theft and other comprehensive risks.
It follows that if we are happy to have Third Party cover only, with a self-driving limitation, our insurance should cover any vehicle we choose to drive. It is worth noting that most certificates no longer carry a vehicle registration number since, as far as minimum Road Traffic Acts cover is concerned, it is not relevant.
I referred this question to my broker who replied that the policy states that vehicle cover is only provided when the appropriate premium has been paid and that the premium is based upon the vehicle declared on the proposal form.
I doubt that this is correct since the law compels the company to provide the driver with the minimum degree of cover already mentioned. I have not had time to take this matter further which I intended to do via the AA's legal department. Perhaps one of your legal expert readers could clarify the position for us.
Pinner, Middx. JOHN PITCHERS
[Can anybody clarify this. Whatever the legal position discussed by Mr. Pitchers, the omission of the registration number from the Insurance Certificate means that the Tax Authorities would he none-the-wiser if the Certificate from one vehicle was used to tax another. We've known of this being done successfully, by accident.—Ed.]
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I note in your correspondence columns of the November issue, a letter from F. C. Irish on the inability of Insurance Underwriters to quote him for numerous cars, he being the only driver, on a basic rate. Unfortunately, when computerisation took over Underwriting a lot of the common sense flew out of the window. Back in the days when rates were worked out on a common-sense basis no problem would have arisen for the modest needs of Mr. Irish. The answer would be to take the premium calculation of what would be the highest rate for any of the cars he owned and make this the basis of the quotation allowing him to drive the other vehicles which, of course, would have to be noted and as a matter of fact my Company does this still for our vintage section, that is for all cars registered before 1947 where value of the vehicle does not enter into it, and thus continuous changes have not to be made in consequence. Unfortunately not only do computers not think, but information fed into them makes it impossible for Underwriters to deviate for special cases and so we are faced with the ridiculous situation outlined by Mr. Irish where not only do all vehicles have to be separately insured but in the main it is not possible to give a sliding overall discount for taking into consideration the number of cars to be insured and the fact that the insured is the only driver. Whilst a motor trader's road risk policy would cover the situation, here again very few Underwriters will quote not only for motor trade, but certainly will not write such a policy unless the insured is in fact a bona fide motor trader. I only wish I could offer a solution to the problem; there are so few Insurance Underwriters left who do common-sense quotations in the old-fashioned way that even the sympathetic companies will say that unfortunately they cannot fit special schemes into their computerised system. Going back twenty-five years, I had an enormous job to persuade a good firm of Underwriters to write a special scheme for vintage vehicles, though with the years, the penny did drop in many directions to the point where Underwriters had at last conceded that it was far better to take low premiums with No Claims then high premiums with many. Certainly the wheel has gone full circle in as much that vintage car drivers can get a much better deal than post-war car motorists.
Guildford ANTHONY HYDE-EAST
Touring Car Racing
When will somebody inform the RAC Motorsports Division that Britain has always been a part of Europe and is even more deeply entrenched now as a member of the EEC. By their decision to formulate their own regulations for the British Touring Car Championship, at a stroke they have prevented Britain's direct participation in the European Touring Car Championship, a series which this year promises to be both prestigious and exciting.
Perhaps the RAC should move out of their insular position in Belgrave Square and into Europe.
Northampton MICHAEL TOWNLEY